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Residents in the Pacific Northwest Turned in Over 13.8 Tons in DEA’s National Drug Take-Back Day

NOV 06 (SEATTLE) –The American people have again responded in droves to the most recent DEA-led National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.   Last Saturday, residents across the country turned in 647,211 pounds (324 tons) of expired and unwanted medications for safe and proper disposal at the 5,683 take-back sites that were available in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories. This is the second-largest collection of medications in seven Take-Back Days.  When the results of the seven events to date are combined, the DEA and its state, local, and tribal law-enforcement and community partners have removed over 3.4 million pounds (1,733 tons) of medication from circulation.  (A breakdown of the last Take-Back Day’s results by state can be seen at www.dea.gov.)

Residents of Washington, Idaho, Oregon, and Alaska turned in 27,624 pounds (13.8 tons) of prescription medications.  The following are the results broken down by state:

  • Washington – 86 collection sites which resulted in 14,508 pounds (7.3 tons) removed from circulation.
  • Idaho – 24 collection sites which resulted in 4,587 (2.3 tons) removed from circulation.
  • Oregon – 36 collection sites which resulted in 5,766 pounds (2.9 tons) removed from circulation.
  • Alaska – 35 collection sites which resulted in 2,763 pounds (1.4 tons) removed from circulation.

This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. Prescription drugs that languish in home medicine cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high; more Americans (6.8 million) currently abuse prescription drugs than the number of those using cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens like LSD, and inhalants (sniffed household products) combined, according to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet.
Take-Back Days are presently needed because the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) as originally written didn’t provide a way for patients, caregivers, and pet owners to dispose of such controlled substance (CS) medications such as painkillers, sedatives, tranquilizers, and stimulants like ADHD drugs.  People were flushing their old meds down the toilet or throwing them in the trash, but in recent years medicines have been found in the nation’s water supplies, and medications were being retrieved from the trash by those who would abuse or sell them. 

To give people a more environmentally responsible and secure way to dispose of their meds, DEA launched its first Take-Back event in September 2010.  Four days later, Congress passed the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010, which amends the CSA to allow people and, in some instances, long term care facilities to regularly, conveniently, and safely dispose of their CS medications by delivering them to entities authorized by the Attorney General to accept them. DEA is in the process of finalizing regulations to implement the Act.


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